The Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland has ruled against The Swiss Commission Fédérale des Maisons de Jeu (CFMJ, The Federal Casino Commission). The court ruled that the Loterie Romande’s ‘Tactilo’ online lottery terminals are not similar to casino-style slot machines and thus cannot be regulated by the Casino Commission. The court ruled that the Tactilo machines offered a ‘virtual versions of instant lottery games, and not slot machine-style gaming as played through video-lottery terminals (VLTs) inside traditional and online casinos in Switzerland.”
The game is very popular in French speaking regions of Switzerland and recently began to gain popularity in the German regions of the country. Tactilo, is an oversized virtual lotto scratch cards game, similar in shape and look as an Automated Cash Machine found inside most banks. The game is frequently located inside pubs, restaurants, shops and near kiosks which offer newspapers, cigarettes, soft drinks and scratch lotto tickets.
In December 2006, the CFMJ decided that Tactilo is similar enough to casino style slot machines and ordered every Tactilo terminal to be removed. After a 6 year legal battle, the Federal Court ruled that Tactilo machines fall under the legal definition of a lottery and thus are protected under the 1923 Lotteries and Betting Act. The 88 year old law, grants powers only to regional governments, at the level of Canton, to control and regulate all sports-betting and lottery games in the country.
The court ruled that the Federal Casino Commission was attempting to usurp the powers specifically granted to local jurisdictions. Swiss gambling laws bans the operation of slot machines outside of licensed casinos regulated at the federal level.
Jean-Luc Moner-Banet, general manager of Loterie Romande, which operates the Tactilo machines praised the ruling, commenting that “Tactilo distributors generate nearly 33% of the profits of the National Lotto. A prohibition would have lowered profits which are completely redistributed for the good of the community.” No formal proposal to regulate the internet gambling industry has yet been presented by the government, although there is a small possibility that a bill could be filed later this year.
CFMJ terse news release stated that the Commission is ‘analyzing a federal administrative court’s ruling before deciding whether to appeal to a higher court.’ The Casino Commission had harsh words for the 1923 Lotteries and Betting Act, which it feels should be rewritten to grant the Commission full control over sports betting as well as lotteries.